ETCC: A1-Ring qualifying report, rounds 13,14

Overview 18 drivers took to the track as Gianluca Roda's Greyhound Opel Vectra was missing for technical problems. There were two newcomers : Italian Salvatore Deplano is driving the nr 10 Conrero Alfa Romeo 156, replacing Enrico Toccacelo who has...

18 drivers took to the track as Gianluca Roda's Greyhound Opel Vectra was missing for technical problems. There were two newcomers : Italian Salvatore Deplano is driving the nr 10 Conrero Alfa Romeo 156, replacing Enrico Toccacelo who has switched to the FIA F3000 Championship, and Stefano Valli from San Marino, who is driving a BMW 320i run by GDL Racing.

Tarquini tops qualifying for the fourth time this year
Honda / JAS Motorsport’s Gabriele Tarquini claimed his fourth pole position of the year, despite having his best lap time disallowed by the stewards as it was set under yellow flags. Tarquini pushed his Honda Accord to the limit from the beginning of the session, setting a provisional pole of 1:36.649 after ten minutes, while benefiting from aspiration behind Eric Cayrolle's BMW. On the following lap, Tarquini improved to 1:46.575, opening a 0.8-second gap between him and his Alfa Romeo pursuers Giovanardi and Larini. With four minutes to go, Tarquini made a further improvement, clocking a time of 1:36.428 that was later disallowed, his best time being fixed at 1:36.575.

Championship leader Fabrizio Giovanardi and his Nordauto team-mate Nicola Larini never gave up and tried to take pole from Tarquini throughout the session. For four minutes Larini was the provisional pole sitter with a time of 1:37.344, which he improved to 1:37.246 ; he was ousted from pole by Giovanardi’s time of 1:37.149, who in turn lost the pole to Tarquini one minute later.

In the second part of the session, both Alfa Romeo 156s put in a series of improvements. Their final times were 1:36.742 for Giovanardi and 1:36.984 for Larini, placing them second and third on the starting grid respectively.

Roberto Colciago in his AGS Motorsport Audi A4 Quattro will occupy the fourth spot on the grid, just ahead of Fabrice Walfisch in a Honda Accord and Gianluca De Lorenzi in a BMW 320i. De Lorenzi was the fastest driver in the "Amateurs" trophy, beating points leader Sandro Sardelli by six tenths. However, Sardelli will start from the back of the grid in tomorrow's first race due to an engine change. Romana Bernardoni will therefore benefit from the seventh position on the grid, her best position so far.

Other drivers who qualified in the top ten were Angelo Lancelotti (Conrero Alfa Romeo 156) despite spinning early in the session, Massimo Pigoli (AGS Motorsport Audi A4 Quattro) and Paolo Zadra (Max Team BMW 320i). This is the first time Zadra has outpaced his experienced team-mate Cayrolle.

Newcomers Stefano Valli and Salvatore Deplano were placed 13th and 18th. It has been a difficult touring car debut for former single-seater driver Deplano, who has not raced since the end of last season.


Fabrizio Giovanardi - nr 1 Nordauto Alfa Romeo : "Today it was absolutely impossible to stay ahead of Tarquini. And I can swear that I desperately tried to do it. The Honda is really good here, but hopefully it won't be so good at the start. Otherwise I fear it will be difficult to keep up with Tarquini's pace in the race."

Nicola Larini - nr 2 Nordauto Alfa Romeo : "I did not have a good feeling with my car and eventually I was slower in qualifying than in free practice. I tried to recover with the last set of tyres, but I made a mistake in the last corner; though I doubt that I could beat Tarquini's time. Anyway, I'm confident for the race, because our car proved to be faster with used tyres than with new ones. I believe that both races will be very, very close."

Romana Bernardoni - nr 3 Nordauto Alfa Romeo : "I managed to set the car up just as I like it, with no understeer. I like this track, it's easy to make mistakes but it doesn't require a lot of experience or daring to be quick. And I feel very good and relaxed, after spending the last weeks on holiday…"

Gabriele Tarquini - nr 4 JAS Motorsport Honda : "I am quite happy with this pole, because I have never raced at the A-1 Ring before and it took me some time to find the right set-up. But since the first laps in the free practice I realised that the track suits my car very well, as it is very stable in the fast corners. I am bit disappointed at having my best time disallowed, honestly I did not see the yellow flag; maybe it was because the sun was low or maybe I just need a new set of contact lenses…"

Fabrice Walfisch - nr 5 JAS Motorsport Honda : "I have had engine problems since the beginning of the session. It did not work well and it did not sound right either. We have to check the telemetry and take a decision, but I will ask the team to change both the engine and the gearbox. I will start from the bottom of the grid, but I don't have the right feeling to race in these conditions."

Roberto Colciago - nr 7 AGS Motorsport Audi : "This is the limit of the Audi on this track. My gap to the leaders is exactly the same as last year : one second. I can recover a bit in the Remus corner, but I lose too much going uphill on the straight between the Castrol and the Remus. Here the four-wheel-drive results in more weight under braking and more attrition in the fast long corners. I hope to do something better in the races."

Eric Cayrolle - nr 16 MaxTeam BMW : "Initially we thought there was an engine problem on my car and the team applied for an engine change, but then we discovered that there was an oil leak and once it was fixed the car was very good in the second free practice. Unfortunately it did not work as well in qualifying, because we could not find the grip with the tyres."

Sandro Sardelli - nr 18 PRO Motorsport Nissan : "We have changed the engine after Budapest. The new one is much better. I can feel the difference in torque and at the high revs. Unfortunately we had already changed the engine at Budapest, which is why I will have to start from the back of the grid."

Gianluca De Lorenzi - nr 20 GDL Racing BMW : "To be sixth on the grid and first in the Amateurs trophy is a satisfying result, considering that I'm coming back after the incident I had in the team's workshop after Zolder, resulting in a surgical operation to my right wrist and a long recovery. I'm not a hundred per cent yet, but I feel I'm improving. The car was good today and it was easy to set the time despite a spin due to a puncture to the rear left tyre."


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About this article
Series General
Drivers Fabrizio Giovanardi , Eric Cayrolle , Gabriele Tarquini , Nicola Larini , Roberto Colciago , Stefano Valli , Gianluca Roda